I had an interesting conversation with a restaurant owner the other day. We were discussing tax audits and he mentioned that he wasn’t worried, because his accountant had signed off on his financial statements. He thought that his accountant was responsible for paying any additional tax that might be reassessed by the CRA!
Most restaurateurs know they lose the cost of the pilfered product, but few understand that they may be responsible for the sales and income taxes (plus penalties and interest) that would have been incurred had the stolen product been sold. Significant tax liabilities often arise from sales (and income) tax audits of restaurants and bars. This can occur anytime purchased wine, beer and liquor is not sold, and one of the most common (and largest) causes of these items not being sold is theft and fraud.
Recently, we’ve begun to hear a lot more about tax evasion in the restaurant industry. More specifically, we’re talking about technologically-assisted tax fraud, using zappers or phantom-ware. It made the news, again this past week, when it was disclosed that the Canada Revenue Agency had found more than $40M of unreported tax in the restaurant industry attributed to the use of zappers. Today’s post looks at the issue of tax fraud in the restaurant industry and tries to determine how “rampant” it might be.
While tax fraud can occur in many different ways, when we talk about the restaurant industry, it usually takes the form of cash sales “skimmed” off and not reported for tax purposes.